(a) Medical compensation shall be provided by the employer.
(b) Upon the written request of the employee to the employer, the employer may agree to authorize and pay for a second opinion examination with a duly qualified physician licensed to practice in North Carolina, or licensed in another state if agreed to by the parties or ordered by the Commission. If, within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the written request, the request is denied or the parties, in good faith, are unable to agree upon a health care provider to perform a second opinion examination, the employee may request that the Industrial Commission order a second opinion examination. The expense thereof shall be borne by the employer upon the same terms and conditions as provided in this section for medical compensation.
(c) Provided, however, if the employee so desires, an injured employee may select a health care provider of the employee's own choosing to attend, prescribe, and assume the care and charge of the employee's case subject to the approval of the Industrial Commission. In addition, in case of a controversy arising between the employer and the employee, the Industrial Commission may order necessary treatment. In order for the Commission to grant an employee's request to change treatment or health care provider, the employee must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the change is reasonably necessary to effect a cure, provide relief, or lessen the period of disability. When deciding whether to grant an employee's request to change treatment or health care provider, the Commission may disregard or give less weight to the opinion of a health care provider from whom the employee sought evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment before the employee first requested authorization in writing from the employer, insurer, or Commission.
(d) The refusal of the employee to accept any medical compensation when ordered by the Industrial Commission shall bar the employee from further compensation until such refusal ceases, and no compensation shall at any time be paid for the period of suspension unless in the opinion of the Industrial Commission the circumstances justified the refusal. Any order issued by the Commission suspending compensation pursuant to G.S. 97-18.1 shall specify what action the employee should take to end the suspension and reinstate the compensation.
(e) If in an emergency on account of the employer's failure to provide medical compensation, a physician other than provided by the employer is called to treat the injured employee, the reasonable cost of such service shall be paid by the employer if so ordered by the Industrial Commission.
(f) In claims subject to G.S. 97-18(b) and (d), a party may file an expedited, emergency, or other medical motion with the Office of the Chief Deputy Commissioner. The nonmoving party shall have the right to contest the motion. Motions and responses shall be submitted via electronic mail to the Commission, the opposing party and the opposing party's attorney, simultaneously. The Commission shall conduct an informal telephonic pretrial conference to determine if the motion warrants an expedited or emergency hearing. If the Commission determines that the motion does not warrant an expedited or emergency hearing, the motion shall be decided administratively within 60 days of the date the motion was filed pursuant to rules governing motions practices in contested cases. If the Commission determines that any party has acted unreasonably by initiating or objecting to a medical motion, the Commission may assess costs associated with any proceeding, including reasonable attorneys' fees and deposition costs, against the offending party.
(g) If the Commission determines that a medical motion should be expedited, each party shall be afforded an opportunity to state its position and to submit documentary evidence at an informal telephonic hearing. The medical motion shall contain documentation and support of the request, including the most relevant medical records and a representation that informal means of resolving the issue have been attempted in good faith, and the opposing parties' position, if known. The Commission shall determine whether deposition testimony of medical and other experts is necessary and if so shall order that the testimony be taken within 35 days of the date the motion is filed. For good cause shown, the Commission may reduce or enlarge the time to complete depositions of medical and other experts. Transcripts of depositions shall be expedited and paid for by the administrator, carrier, or employer. Transcripts shall be submitted electronically to the Commission within 40 days of the date the motion is filed unless the Commission has reduced or enlarged the time to complete the depositions. The Commission shall render a decision on the motion within five days of the date transcripts are due to the Commission.
(h) If the Commission determines that a medical motion is an emergency, the Commission shall make a determination on the motion within five days of receipt by the Commission of the medical motion. Motions requesting emergency medical relief shall contain the following:
(1) An explanation of the medical diagnosis and treatment recommendation of the health care provider that requires emergency attention.
(2) A specific statement detailing the time-sensitive nature of the request to include relevant dates and the potential for adverse consequences to the employee if the recommended treatment is not provided emergently.
(3) An explanation of opinions known and in the possession of the employee of additional medical or other relevant experts, independent medical examiners, and second opinion examiners.
(4) Documentation known and in the possession of the employee in support of the request, including relevant medical records.
(5) A representation that informal means of resolving the issue have been attempted. (1929, c. 120, s. 25; 1931, c. 274, s. 4; 1933, c. 506; 1955, c. 1026, s. 2; 1973, c. 520, s. 1; 1991, c. 703, s. 3; 1997-308, s. 1; 1999-150, s. 1; 2005-448, s. 6.2; 2011-287, s. 6; 2013-294, s. 4.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014